Updated June 17, 2020

How to Make Money Doing Surveys

Read more about Online Surveys
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Online surveys can pay for gas, but probably not your rent. Learn why sites pay for opinions, plus what you can earn in just one hour.

Sure, getting paid to take surveys sounds great.

You start to wonder, what's the ulterior motive?

Here's the simple truth: A company's success depends on knowing what their customers think, need, and want. And they're willing to shell out some cash to get that info.

But—you do need to keep an eye out.

Some survey sites have their own agenda that puts your personal info at risk.

Below, discover which red flags to look out for, how to find a reputable site, plus how much popular sites pay per hour.

Have you ever made money from an online survey?

Why do companies pay for surveys?
Companies pay you to take surveys because your opinions and thoughts are very valuable. If they know what you like and dislike, they can figure out how to appeal to potential customers just like you.

Before taking the plunge into online surveys, get to know how they turn your opinions into cash.

How Online Surveys Work

It's true: companies are dying to know what makes you tick.

But that information is not easy to come by. When businesses want that valuable customer insight, they usually hire a market research company to create surveys and attract survey-takers.

And that's where you come in. Here's how it usually goes down:

  1. Choose a site to sign up with. Review the tips below to find legitimate sites.

  2. Create your profile. You'll probably need to provide basic info like age, location, and an estimate of your income.

  3. Get notified for surveys. Many sites notify you via email when a survey comes up that you qualify for.

  4. Take surveys. There's (usually) no limit on how many you can take in a day. Most surveys take anywhere from 10-40 minutes.

  5. Earn points, rewards, or cash. For each completed survey, a site will either add cash or a number of points to your profile.

  6. Finally, cash out. When you reach the site's required minimum cash-out balance, you can get your money in either gift cards or cash.

Which paid survey sites are legitimate?
Our experiences with the following websites has been generally positive:

Are Online Surveys Worth Your Time?

In short, that depends on what you're trying to get from it.

Surveys will not replace a full-time salary or job. Instead, they're here to help make the most of your downtime. Any time you're waiting at the DMV, sitting in an Uber, or catching up on your shows, you could be earning cash. Slowly, but surely.

That being said, some sites are not worth your time.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a survey site…

Dollar-per-Hour Earnings
Calculating the dollar-per-hour rate is the best way to decide if a survey site is worth your time. Simply multiply the average earnings per survey by the number of surveys you can likely complete in an hour.

But survey sites don't make it easy.

Many sites award points for completing a survey, meaning they need to be converted into dollars.

The kicker? It's almost never a 1:1 ratio. In fact, 1 point usually equals just 1 cent. So, if a survey awards 50 points upon completion, just remember that may total a whopping…$0.50.

If you complete two of those surveys in an hour, then you've earned $1 per hour.

Dollar-per-Hour for Popular Survey Sites
Based on the average points earned per survey and average time needed to complete a survey, here's roughly what you can expect to earn on the following popular websites.
InboxDollars: $0.50 per hour
Swagbucks: $0.90 per hour
Survey Junkie: $1.50 per hour
MyPoints: $1.00 per hour
Opinion Outpost: $1.50 per hour

Minimum Cash-Out
Minimum cash-out is essentially how long you must work before reaping the rewards.

Say a survey site has a cash-out minimum of $35. That means you need to reach that minimum before the money can be deposited in your account. If you're getting $0.50 per survey, it could take a while.

But many sites have minimums as low as $3-$5. Consider how soon you need your cash (and how much you need) when choosing a survey site.

Payment Options
Can you imagine putting in 8 hours of taking surveys, just to be paid out in gift cards for stores you don't shop at?

That's why it's important to check the site's payout method first. Most give you the option to receive payment via PayPal, so sign up for a PayPal account before diving in. (Bonus: it's free!)

How to Sign Up for PayPal:

  1. Visit the PayPal website.
  2. Click "Sign Up for Free"
  3. Enter your basic info.
  4. Choose which bank account you want to connect to your PayPal account.
  5. Finish sign up and verify your account via email.

Which Survey Sites Should You Try?

If you're ready to try your hand at survey sites, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the number of options out there.

We've broken down a few of the most popular options to consider below. Remember, your earnings with any site will be modest, but they'll add up over time.

  • Swagbucks: A big player in the online survey space. Swagbucks pays you to watch videos, use their browser extension, take surveys, and has a cash-back program. Plus, they offer a $5 bonus just for signing up.

  • Survey Junkie: This site's been around for nearly a decade, and offers some higher-earning opportunities (like focus groups and product testing) to loyal users. Survey Junkie also sweetens the deal by awarding you points for surveys you don't qualify for.

  • InboxDollars: Operating under the same parent company as Swagbucks, InboxDollars is a "survey aggregator" that finds you surveys from third-party sites. You can also earn by playing games, reading emails, and just by signing up ($5).

  • OneOpinion: Disqualifying for surveys happens frequently, but this site awards you better "disqualification points" to make it worth your while. OneOpinion is another survey aggregator, so they connect you with surveys from multiple survey sites.

This round-up of survey sites only scratches the surface. For even more options (plus tips on how to maximize your earnings) check out our ultimate guide to online surveys.

What Experts Say

Making a living isn't always glamorous. Lots of people are afraid of getting stuck in unfulfilling jobs.

In an unpredictable job market, you don't have to go it alone. As part of our series on gig work and employment, CreditDonkey asked a panel of industry experts to answer some of readers' most pressing questions:

  • How do you find your purpose and do what you love?
  • Could gig work put an end to traditional employment?
  • How is the gig economy changing the workforce?
  • What jobs are the happiest?
  • What will the future of work look like?

Here's what they said:

The Risks of Online Surveys

Before you go out and start earning cash for surveys, there are a few need-to-know tips that will help you avoid sketchy sites.

Here's what to do…

  1. Do some webpage sleuthing…
    Some perfectly legit sites look like they were made in 2002, and that's okay!

    But if a website looks a little neglected, it may be worthwhile doing a little more investigating. Sketchy sites will usually feature at least one of the following:

    • "Spammy links": Excessive exclamation marks, too-good-to-be-true claims, or something that just feels pushy is typically not a good sign.
    • Poor functionality & navigation: Do the links lead nowhere? Getting a lot of 404 errors? Steer clear.
    • No SSL certificate: In other words, is there little padlock icon next to a site's URL in the search bar? Great! Your sensitive information is encrypted to protect from online hackers. If not, run.

  2. Look for the Privacy Policy…
    A site's Privacy Policy tends to hide towards the bottom of the page, usually in a very small font.

    If you can't find a privacy policy anywhere on the site, that's a definite red flag. If you do find a privacy policy, click it and take a quick look.

    On the surface, it will look like a complicated jumble of legalese and business terms. Don't be deterred. To find the essential info, try using CTRL+F to search for phrases like "personal information" or "you hereby grant."

    That usually tells you what the site can do with your personal info. Here's a hint: they'll probably sell it.

    If using the site means agreeing to terms you're not comfortable with, look elsewhere.

  3. See how they rank with the BBB…
    Some companies are BBB Accredited, which means they meet the Better Business Bureau's standards of resolving customer complaints. If your site isn't accredited, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

    The BBB also use an A+ to F rating system to indicate how well the company interacts with its customers. An A+ rating is a good sign, and an F is certainly a red flag, but these ratings are no guarantee of a business' reliability or performance.

    This will just provide some peace of should you need to contact customer service at any point.

  4. What are the people saying?
    While you can get an idea of customer satisfaction from BBB complaints, sometimes you need to dig a little deeper.

    You may want to check out what current or former survey-takers are saying on forums and social media. Sites like Reddit are a great resource to get unfiltered reviews of survey websites—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Why was I disqualified from the survey?
Your personal info and preferences will disqualify you from starting certain surveys. But if you're kicked out of a survey right in the middle of completing it, your answers are probably the culprit. Either your answers have indicated that you're not who they're looking for, or you have conflicting answers.

Survey sites will sometimes ask you the same question twice to make sure you're paying attention. Answer it differently each time and they'll likely kick you out of the survey.

Bottom Line

Yes, you can really make money by taking online surveys. Just be sure you have reasonable expectations. Online surveys cannot replace a salary, and you will probably earn $1-$2 per hour of survey-taking.

However, if you're waiting in line or catching up on shows at home, surveys are a great way to earn a little extra cash when you otherwise wouldn't.

Holly Zorbas is a assistant editor at CreditDonkey, a personal finance comparison and reviews website. Write to Holly Zorbas at holly.zorbas@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.


$5 Signup Bonus

  • Get paid to take surveys, play video games, watch videos
  • Cash out to PayPal or gift cards

Online Surveys: Get Paid for Taking Surveys

By Holly Zorbas - Tips for I Need Money
Online surveys are a legit way to make extra cash. Find out which ones pay the most. Plus, get the pros and cons of each site.
Have you ever made money from an online survey?
35% Yes
65% No
Source: CreditDonkey
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